Pharmacological regulation of outflow resistance distal to schlemm’s canal

Fiona McDonnell, W. Michael Dismuke, Darryl R. Overby, W. Daniel Stamer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


The trabecular meshwork (TM) and Schlemm’s canal generate the majority of outflow resistance; however, the distal regions of the conventional outflow pathway account for 25–50% of total resistance. Sections of distal vessels are surrounded by α-smooth muscle actin-containing cells, indicating that they may be vasoregulated. This study examined the effect of a potent vasodilator, nitric oxide (NO), and its physiological antagonist, endothelin-1 (ET-1), on the regulation of outflow resistance in the distal regions of the conventional outflow pathway. Using a physiological model of the conventional outflow pathway, human and porcine anterior segments were perfused in organ culture under constant flow conditions, while intrachamber pressure was continually monitored. For porcine anterior segments, a stable baseline outflow facility with TM intact was first achieved before anterior segments were removed and a trabeculotomy was performed. For human anterior segments, a trabeculotomy was immediately performed. In human anterior segments, 100 nM ET-1 significantly decreased distal outflow facility from 0.49 ± 0.26 to 0.31 ± 0.18 (mean ± SD) µl·min−1·mmHg, P < 0.01. Perfusion with 100 µM diethylenetriamine-NO in the presence of 1 nM ET-1 immediately reversed ET-1 effects, significantly increasing distal outflow facility to 0.54 ± 0.35 µl·min−1·mmHg, P = 0.01. Similar results were obtained in porcine anterior segment experiments. Therefore, data show a dynamic range of resistance generation by distal vessels in both the human and the porcine conventional outflow pathways. Interestingly, maximal contraction of vessels in the distal outflow tract of trabeculotomized eyes generated resistance very near physiological levels for both species having an intact TM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C44-C51
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Aqueous humor
  • Distal outflow
  • Glaucoma
  • Outflow physiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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